Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Is Kiruv Education?

On Muqata blog there is a discussion about Christian missionaries in Modi'in. Jameel complains about the response of some of the "uber-liberals" in Modiin. The uber liberal in question wrote:
Btw. I know from personal experience that there are orthodox Jewish movements who are actively working on bringing secular Jews (back) to a religious lifestyle or trying to convince gentiles married to Jews to consider conversion to Judaism, but that wouldn't be considered missionary activity, right?
 To which Jameel responds sarcastically
Because after all, living in the Jewish State, educating people about Judaism should be outlawed (in Modi'in). (Stress Added)

Is Kiruv just Jewish education? Just teaching people about Judaism?

What rubbish. Kiruv is not just education for two reasons:

1. Kiruv only teaches Judaism as a means to get people to observe Orthodox Judaism. The primary goal of Kiruv movements is not to provide information but to use information to convince people to change their lives.

2. Certain Kiruv organizations provide false information that can hardly be called "education" but rather "manipulative indoctrination".

I doubt any Jew would be complaining about Christians teaching informative classes about Christianity in a university. The reason people don't like Christian missionaries is because they're not just teaching people who Jesus was for the hell of it but because they are actively trying to convince you to worship Jesus. Similarly if Aish HaTorah delivers a class on Gemara, I couldn't care less, however they don't just teach Gemara - but are selective in what they teach and try to use the teaching of  Jewish scriptures as part of a larger program of getting you to don a black hat, abandon your parents and become a mindless Orthodox sheep.


Yossi said...

Aish does NOT try to get people to become mindless sheep who abandon their parents.  THey most emphatically stress a gradual approach which includes maintaining ties with family members who are not religious.  Your statement about Aish is an outrageous slander.

Chaynobody said...

Spot on, as usual.
Of course, in the same way one could argue that ALL primary school education is just indoctrination into whichever belief system the school happens to ascribe to - be it liberal Democracy and the "obviously greater" system of capitalism (in the US public schools) or radical nationalism in Venezuela, for example.

Shilton HaSechel said...

I've heard different stories from different people... I don't speak from any personal experience...

G*3 said...

I’ve had this conversation with people. At the end of the conversation, it usually boils down to, “Christian missionizing of Jews is wrong because Christians are wrong, while Kiruv is virtuos because we’re right.”
As you say, if Kiruv organizations were offering classes on Judaism, Jewish philosophy, etc., I’d have no objections, even if they were offering the classes in the hope that the attendees would become frum. It’s the sales tactics, the bad proofs, and the chasing after people that I object to.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Hi Shilton:  There are different types of Kiruv -- some are based on education, and yes, some are based on manipulative indoctrination.

However, to lump all kiruv together is wrong.

Do you consider the IDF Nativ program to be manipulative indoctrination?



Shilton HaSechel said...

Hi Jameel,

You're right, I should've been clearer in this post, I'm not targeting ALL kiruv - just a certain (though prevalent) "brand" of Kiruv - the type that has the characteristics i listed in this post - but, to be fair, I could turn this back at you and say that lumping ALL kiruv together as mere "educating people about Judaism" is equally "wrong".

Of course, I have to wonder if you would object *as much* if it wasn't Christian Missionaries but instead some manipulative Kiruv worker targeting chiloni children in Modi'in....

Yedid Nefesh said...

Great post. I think you cant deny Kiruv of any education identity. Its a form of education that likes to take it to the next level where it isnt only about knowledge anymore

morganfrost said...

Define "education."  Kiruv is "outreach."  I generally think of education as less a partisan endeavor than kiruv.  Now, before you jump on me and point out all the biases in academe, allow me to add that I am fully aware of these.  However, biases in academe are defects; bias in kiruv is the essence of the program.

Tuvia said...

I’ve been to aish – it is a friendly place. But it is built on the idea of getting you to feel you are part of the group, and then convincing you the group is provably defined by a provably G-d given Torah.

The proofs are pure hell and you know why? First, these people you trust (who are nice and cool) are not only lying (through distortion, omission, and fabrication) to you, but they are lying to themselves.

Belief, proofs, it is all part of telling yourself implausible things, and then adopting those implausible things as facts. So, events are imagined to have happened thousands of years ago, and turned into things we KNOW happened.

Lying to another person is wrong. Lying to yourself makes you a danger to people who rely on your good sense. It makes you a menace.


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